Highly-touted MLB Prospect Roki Sasaki to Miss 2nd Straight Start in Japan Due to Right Arm Issue

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File
Japan’s Roki Sasaki delivers a pitch during the first inning of a World Baseball Classic game against Mexico, March 20, 2023, in Miami.

TOKYO (AP) — Roki Sasaki, the 22-year-old Japanese pitcher who could move to Major League Baseball next season, will miss his second consecutive start this weekend because of an unspecified injury to his right arm, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

Chiba Lotte Marines manager Masato Yoshii explained the move because of the “poor condition of his (Sasaki’s) right arm,” Kyodo reported Thursday. It’s not clear when he will next pitch.

Sasaki is 5-2 in nine starts this season and has 70 strikeouts, He has pitched 59 2/3 innings with an earned-run average of 1.96.

If Sasaki makes a move to the MLB, the Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to be a top bidder, where he could join fellow Japanese players Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Sasaki could land another astounding contract, but he would cost an MLB team relatively little if he signs before age 25.

Japanese players need nine years of service time in their major leagues to become a free agent. They can move to MLB earlier under an agreement between Nippon Professional Baseball and MLB that established a posting system under which a Japanese club makes a player available for bidding and receives a release fee: 20% of the first $25 million of a major league contract, 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any amount over $50 million.

However, a player under 25 who has not reached six years of service in a foreign major league is subject to MLB’s international amateur signing bonus pools, which set a hard cap and limit him initially to a minor league contract.